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GEOP2030 – The Colonial Present

2020 – Session 1, Weekday attendance, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Jessica McLean
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
40cp at 1000 level or above
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

Far from being a past event, colonialism continues to operate in many parts of the world today as a dehumanising system of cultural and spatial power. This unit provides students with the tools to analyse the complex historical geographies of colonialism and to reflect on how Indigenous thinking continues to thrive in the places where we live, work and visit. The unit includes critical examination of local places as a way of understanding the scale and dominance of colonial-induced planetary crises. Through a foundational reading of place as Indigenous Country, the unit examines contemporary manifestations of colonialism and the resistance being offered by Indigenous thinking to secure a healthier future for all entities, including humans.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Describe the complex relations between race, colonialism and dispossession
  • ULO2: Identify and discuss different modes of anticolonial resistance to the colonial present, including the work of contemporary Indigenous scholars internationally.
  • ULO3: Discuss how diverse knowledges, including Indigenous and settler colonial knowledges, reflect and produce social and cultural geographies
  • ULO4: Critically examine the links between local places and colonial-induced planetary crises

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Assessment Information

Late Assessment Penalty

Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, (a) a penalty for lateness will apply – two (2) marks out of 100 will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date – and (b) no assignment will be accepted more than seven (7) days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline. No late submissions will be accepted for timed assessments – e.g. quizzes, online tests.

Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, (a) a penalty for lateness will apply – two (2) marks out of 100 will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date – and (b) no assignment will be accepted more than seven (7) days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline.

Assessment tasks 

Participatory task 

The Participatory task will be a reflective writing task that will be undertaken during seminars, when appropriate. Students will respond to structured questions and writing prompts to develop their reflections. More information will be provided on iLearn. Wordcount: variable over the semester, between 100-400 words. 

Storytelling Project 

Students will undertake a storytelling project about the place that they live in. This will involve observing and collecting stories about their local area with respect to Indigenous presences and colonial practices. More information will be provided on iLearn. Wordcount: 2000 words. 


Students will select a creative piece of work by an Indigenous artist/scholar from a list of suggested material to deliver an oral presentation to be shared in class time or digitally (online students). Students will discuss what they think about the text and how their chosen piece talks to key themes discussed in this unit, including Indigenous knowledges, racial difference, colonial presences and environmental crises. This critical reflection and appreciation will include an analysis of how diverse knowledges reflect and produce social and cultural geographies (LOs 3 and 4). Students will talk for a maximum of 5 minutes with 2 minutes for group discussion time following each presentation. 

Online students will submit their presentations in a digital format as a 5 minute video. Online students will comment on one other student’s digital submission in a reflective way that engages with the content and delivery of the presentation. Online students will write a 200 word comment on the Presentation submitted by a peer. 

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


GEOP2030 is available in day and online study modes. For day students, learning and teaching will be via a mix of face-to-face lectures, pre-recorded lectures, online workshops and pre-class activities. Day students will come to a seminar class that will be a mix of lecture and tutorial-based activities throughout the semester.  Your timetable includes a lecture and tutorial allocation but we are going to conduct the class as a seminar, allocating some time to lecture-style instruction and other to discussion-based activities. 

Online students: a portion of each week’s face-to-face lecture will be recorded for you to listen to and then a series of activities will be set for this study mode. 

Please see the unit schedule on iLearn for details of these compulsory activities. 

Seminar time: 11-2pm Mondays, 6 Eastern Rd - 314 Tutorial Rm   

Teaching and Learning Strategies and Workload Expectations 

Non-attendance at these sessions or non-completion of online activities, poor preparation and participation will affect your overall engagement with the unit and also your grade for GEOP2030. You must contact Jess (jessica.mclean@mq.edu.au) if you are unable to attend a session due to unavoidable circumstances, otherwise your grade will be affected. Day students attend all lectures and workshops as scheduled, as per your student registration.  

GEOP2030 aims to be a challenging and stimulating unit that not only engages with and critiques the 'Colonial Present’ but also reflects on our role as individuals within that system.  

GEOP2030 aims to offer you as many opportunities as possible to engage with your role as a student through up-to-date material, case studies, and reflective exercises.  

Technology used and required

All students must have access to iLearn. Please bring laptops computers and other devices to class. Online students can book consultations with convenor Jess McLean throughout the semester, on phone or online video as preferred.

Required and recommended texts

Throughout the semester you will read set texts that are available either through online open access or through the library. In addition, you may choose to obtain copies of the following highly recommended books (especially as they are reasonably priced):

Gay’wu Group of Women, 2019. Songspirals: Sharing Women's Wisdom of Country Through Songlines, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.

Pascoe, Bruce. 2014. Dark emu black seeds: Agriculture or accident?. Magabala Books, Broome.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status





24 Feb

Introduction to the unit: What does the ‘colonial present’ mean?

Overview of GEOP2030 – assessments, schedule, expectations

Jess McLean

Lauren Tynan


2 March

Place as Indigenous Country


Lauren Tynan



9 March

Power, knowledge and settler colonialism: Decolonisation and challenging colonial hegemonies

Jess McLean


16 March

Student presentations – assessment task

Jess McLean



23 March

Decolonising spaces, from the local to the global


Jess McLean


30 March

Geographies of identity and belonging

Jess McLean


6 April

Caring for/as Country


Lauren Tynan





27 April

Indigenous water knowledges

Jess McLean


4 May

Indigenous tourism and cultures of travel


Marnie Graham

Jess McLean


11 May

Digital geographies and Indigenous presences: decolonising the digital?


Jess McLean


18 May

Reading/assessment task week - no face-to-face classes



25 May

Indigenist methodologies and ways of doing: a research case study

Lauren Tynan



1 June

Refusal and resistance: Reviewing and challenging the colonial present


Jess McLean

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to help you improve your marks and take control of your study.

The Library provides online and face to face support to help you find and use relevant information resources. 

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

If you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Changes from Previous Offering

N/A - this is a new unit.